Published Jul 09, 2010Fang Island did their damnedest, but despite filling the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre with their ambitious opening set, they could do nothing about the sea of empty seats. Tokyo Police Club suffered a similar fate, but received a warm welcome from the fans who had shown up early to catch performances from the Toronto quartet's new album, Champ.
Yes, Spoon are always a formidable live act, but singer Britt Daniel's effortless swagger isn't quite as effective during the daylight, so it wasn't until after the sun set that the band really picked up the pace, giving rousing renditions of "I Summon You," "Jonathan Fisk" and "You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb." As such, the real attraction of the night was the rightfully headlining Flaming Lips who, one could reasonably say, do not put on a mere concert, but a full-on performance extravaganza.
The Lips entered the stage through a doorway in their video screen right where the nether regions of a giant, orange and yellow silhouetted woman should have been, as human-sized, multi-coloured balloons rained down and cannons spewed confetti high into the air. "Squish together tight," frontman Wayne Coyne warned. "I'm going to be on top of you in a moment." Then, after venturing out over the general-admission crowd in his trademark inflatable transparent sphere, the band launched into set opener "Worm Mountain," one of several towering tracks from their 2009 epic Embryonic.
Coyne's crowd manipulation was superb, as the audience responded enthusiastically to every "Come on" and "Give it everything you've got" he could goad them with, but the true wonder of Wayne Coyne is his sincerity. There was nothing ironic in his proclaimed confidence in the power of song, nor in his declaration that "if you give love, you'll be the most loved person there ever was." So when he exploded with emotion during "The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song (With All Your Power)" and asked "is to love just a waste?" during "In the Morning of the Magicians," they seemed surprisingly genuine sentiments.
For any prolonged period of time, Coyne's unbridled optimism could be grating, but for two hours, it's nothing short of contagious, a point aptly proven by the thousands of fans screaming animals noises during "I Can Be a Frog." The set's paramount moment, though, was in the band's encore performance of "Do You Realize??," during which Coyne practically begged, in his most excruciatingly heartfelt manner, for the crowd to count their blessings, as a second set of cannons rained confetti down upon the joyous audience.